April 10, 2022 — Today marks the 167th anniversary since the Kalapuya Treaty of 1855 was officially proclaimed. To learn more about how the treaty impacts the rich history of the tribe and connects us to the Salem area, read a letter from Cultural Resources Director, Robert Kentta, below:
My name is Robert Kentta and I am an enrolled member of the Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians of Oregon. I live in Siletz, Oregon. I am a member of the Siletz Tribal Council and serve as Treasurer. I am also employed by the Siletz Tribe as the Siletz Tribe’s Cultural Resources Director.
The Siletz Indian Reservation was conceived — in line with federal policy at the time — as the reservation for all of the tribes and bands of Indians in western Oregon. The Siletz Indian Reservation was first set aside on a preliminary basis on April 17, 1855, by then Oregon Indian Affairs Superintendent Joel Palmer and later confirmed by the Department of the Interior, for the Coast, Willamette and Umpqua Tribes of Indians. Three days later, it also became federal policy to remove the Rogue Valley Tribes and Bands from the Table Rock temporary Reservation, and also to place them upon the Siletz Coast Reservation as their permanent home. The Siletz Coast Reservation was to be the single Indian Reservation to house Western Oregon Indians (and included Tribes and individuals removed from a bit beyond western Oregon).
The November 9, 1855 Executive Order by President Franklin Pierce that created our Siletz Reservation specifically stated that it was for the Coast, Willamette and Umpqua Tribes. When it was debated in Washington D.C. as to whether the President or Congress should act on the request to establish the Siletz Reservation, it was stated that the treaties already ratified with Tribes in Western Oregon “amply clothe the President” with the power to establish the permanent resident asked for. As stated, three days after the Executive Order was signed, the federal government approved federal policy to remove the Rogue Valley and other nearby tribes and bands to the Siletz Reservation, thereby adding additional ratified treaty Tribes to those to be confederated on the Siletz Reservation. The federal government then, through ratified treaty stipulations as well as unratified treaties and as a matter of Interior policy, “confederated” all of the various tribes and bands into one “Tribe” recognized by the federal government as the tribal government on the Siletz Reservation. The Interior Department started referring to this consolidated tribal entity as early as 1857 as the Confederated Siletz Tribe.
Today there are many families of the Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians who are of Kalapuya, Mollala, and Chinookan ancestry and whose ancestors signed the Willamette Valley and Kalapuya Etc. Treaty of 1855. The Siletz Tribe includes Kalapuya and other Willamette Valley Tribe blood quantum in its definition of “Siletz” blood and includes that blood quantum in determining a person’s eligibility to be a Siletz enrolled member. The Salem area is also the Siletz Tribe’s treaty-ceded territory.
The Confederated Tribe of Siletz Indians has well over 1,000 members who are descended from Kalapuya, Mollala, and Chinookan peoples who belong under the Willamette/Kalapuya, Etc. Treaty of 1855.
In 1992, Secretary of the Interior Manual Lujan issued his favorable determination on the Siletz Tribe’s Section 20 Application for the exact 20-acre parcel of land the casino project will be built on. That approval by the Secretary also included acknowledgment of the Siletz Tribe’s historical and legal ties to the Salem area. This 20-acre parcel of land went into trust for the Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians in 2000 for economic development purposes — further acknowledgment of the Siletz Tribe’s historical and legal ties to the Salem area.
The Siletz Tribe has a long and storied history in the Willamette Valley and Salem area and we celebrate the historical milestones that connect us to this land.